The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Posted on September 27th, 2014 at 1:24 am by

OpenLettertoObama NYT 9-16-14

Report on Beth Israel vigil 10-25-14

Posted on October 31st, 2014 at 1:32 pm by

Liberal Ann Arbor Celebrates a Weakened Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Here’s the bottom line: the Ann Arbor Jewish community, embarrassed in a court show-down with activist/doctor Catherine Wilkerson, and frustrated in their attempts to stop her protests with Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends in front of Beth Israel Congregation, got her fired from her job as a physician at the Packard Community Clinic. They did this in the usual gangster fashion: Warn the Clinic that they could expect drastically reduced funding and other support from the Jewish community if they didn’t get rid of her, and the rest is history: they cried “Thank you sir”, and Catherine was gone.

About that time (2008) members of the Committee to Defend Catherine Wilkerson, with the support of the local ACLU, appealed to Ann Arbor’s Human Right Committee (HRC), which now hosts a founding member of Michigan Friends of the Israeli “Defense” Forces as one of its seven commissioners. How’s that for an expression of Human Rights? This was the same Human Rights Commission that was eviscerated by Mayor John Hieftje after they unanimously passed a resolution in 2003 calling for a cessation of military aid to Israel. (Note: after the practicing commissioners were eliminated from their posts, a new batch overturned – again by a unanimous vote in 2007 – the resolution passed by their predecessors.)

Our appeal was for the HRC to fight for practitioners of the First Amendment and not let an employee’s political activities OUTSIDE the workplace property and OUTSIDE working hours allow an employer to terminate that individual. We recognize that the HRC did in fact make an effort to correct this violation of one’s 1A rights, but feel they didn’t go far enough, and took their time doing it. This writer spoke at the Council meeting where the new ordinance replaced the old, and outlined some of the deficiencies contained therein (text below signature.)

Question for Josh Ruebner

Josh’s group, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, is now bonding with those in support of Ferguson, with their Palestine2Ferguson campaign, “as part of our commitment to confronting racism and bigotry in all its forms.” Yet, under its “US Campaign Anti-Racism Principles”, Zionism is not listed with other forms of racism and bigotry. We remind Josh that the United Nations General Assembly found Zionism to be a form of racism in 1975 and we ask him: Why doesn’t the US Campaign list Zionism as racism, while claiming anti-Semitism is?

Politically Correct Commissars Say ‘Nyet’ to Criticism of Jews

Our friend Michael has not only stood vigil with JWPF, but has held his own vigil in front of Temple Bonai Shalom in Boulder Colorado. He participated in a “block the boat” action in Oakland, California this weekend and carried his sign pictured below. For those who cannot upload the photo below, it reads “Gaza? Jews killed thousands! End Israel” and contained a hand sketch of an anti-Israel flag.

michael at block the boat-sm

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~hersko/Photos/michael%20at%20block%20the%20boat.jpg

For this open expression of opinion, Michael was treated to a woman’s outrage who said “That’s really offensive. We don’t want you to show that. You should take it down”. When Michael stated that he preferred to carry it, he was “ambushed” by two men, who pushed him, stole his sign and destroyed it. As British friend F commented: “No one has any difficulty saying ‘the Jews’ are particularly talented, intelligent, compassionate, musical etc, or that they have disproportionately contributed to Western civilisation. But if you say anything negative about Jews, woe betide you.” A second Brit, G, chimed in with “if a Zionist is a Jew, it is anti-Semitic to mention that; if an anti-Zionist is a Jew, it is mandatory to point it out.”

Isn’t it time to stand up against this outrageous behavior and send this hypersensitive, always innocent yet entirely racist ethnic group packing? Good job, Michael.

Comments?

Oct. 18 – Seven vigilers
Oct. 25 – Seven vigilers

We support the full and immediate Right of Return for Palestinians.
Does JVP?
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
#

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
October 20, 2014 [392 words]
Agenda Item PH-1 Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Good evening,

Six years ago the Committee to Defend Catherine Wilkerson went to the Human Right Commission with a complaint. It is our understanding that Ms. Wilkerson was fired from her job as a physician at the Packard Community Clinic in part because of her off-work political protests with those of us advocating for Palestinian rights. Our complaint to the Human Rights Commission was to address the mistreatment Ms. Wilkerson suffered as well as the chilling effect her firing had upon other members of our group.

Although the Commission had started to reflect upon possible changes to the Non-Discrimination ordinance, I believe it was our request that gave the impetus to the changes before Council tonight. While we are pleased that the ordinance has language that makes it more difficult for an employer to dismiss an employee for issues concerning that employee’s political beliefs, we feel it necessary to highlight possible loopholes which could permit another Wilkerson firing.

To recap quickly: a new work contract in February 2007 was suddenly presented to Ms. Wilkerson which she was asked to sign. The new contract stipulated she would not join in political protests either on or off work time, on or off work property. When she refused to sign the document she was fired. When I tell that story to friends they almost all say “that cannot happen; we have laws protecting employees”.

But happen it did, and that’s why we took the issue to the Human Rights Commission. I would like to raise a few points in regard to the language contained in this proposal.

First, I would note that of all the 29 characteristics that the ordinance addresses, only one is singled out for exclusion, and that one is political beliefs. The proposed wording states that “With regard to employment, an individual’s political beliefs that interfere or threaten to interfere with his or her job performance are specifically excluded from this protection.”

Secondly, while although an employer might find it slightly more difficult to dismiss an employee based on this revised ordinance, he/she need only convince an arbiter that the employee’s off-the-job political activities merely “threaten” their job performance. We would hope that a final draft of this ordinance would clearly support the rights of employees to freely engage in lawful political expression and other lawful conduct that does not interfere with job performance.

Thank you

Report on Beth Israel vigil 10-11-14

Posted on October 14th, 2014 at 12:28 pm by

“You Don’t Need to [attend] Synagogue to be a Jew”

The fifth annual Bill Henry Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day found this writer attending the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The wearing of the colors (see below) extracted a support-to-disapproval ratio of about 4:1. The first day’s count showed 18 supportive comments and 4 negative ones. The second day – aka Bill Henry Day or Yom Kippur to tribal members – exposed the racism of a small group of college students, who in turn exposed their middle fingers in our direction (my girlfriend wore her anti-Israel pin). I asked the young woman if she was a Jew and she replied yes. I then asked why she wasn’t in the synagogue, because “today is Yom Kippur”. She said “You don’t need to be in the synagogue to be a Jew”.

Now we never know if a statement like that BEGS the question or ASKS the question, but the question of “What, then, is a Jew?” certainly follows. The woman considers herself to be a Jew and no one disputes it. But by her own admission, she is not a religious Jew. So there doesn’t seem to be a link between her and her God, because on the supposedly holiest day of the year she’d rather smoke a little pot with her Jewish friends in a crowded park than to atone with them at a house of worship. If worship has nothing to do with it, if there is no “belief” in a supreme being worthy of worship, no “faith”, then what does it mean to be a Jew? We put the question to Paul Eisen, hero and mentor to many. His response (“Nobody knows what it is”) leaves us to fend for ourselves. And our best guess is that being a Jew means finding oneself in an unselected, exclusive – and rather mean-spirited if you read Goliath by Max Blumenthal – club. Is that all there is?

hh at HSBG Festival-sm

Comments?
Oct. 4 – Seven vigilers
Oct. 11 – Five vigilers

End “Israel”; For the Jews …
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
#

Report on Beth Israel vigil 09-27-14

Posted on September 28th, 2014 at 7:49 pm by

Seattle Panel

This writer introduced the topic of Jewish Power at a panel presentation and discussion in Seattle September 20th. I was joined on the stage by Greg Felton and Gilad Atzmon. Greg followed with a factual explanation of the crimes of the Jewish state, and Gilad finished with a slide show presenting new theories of Jewish domination of the peace movement.

Afterwards a lengthy Q&A ensued, with an unsigned letter distributed by Matt in the audience. This letter was highly critical of Gilad, but was filled with errors and distortions. Gilad’s response to this letter can be found here, and the letter itself here. Moral Politics TV will be releasing the video of this presentation from the campus of the University of Washington soon.

Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

We remind readers to join JWPF Oct. 4 as the group gathers once again in front of Beth Israel Congregation to remind worshippers and passersby alike of the crimes being committed in the name of Jews everywhere. This celebrant plans to enjoy his cheeseburger in the City by the Bay. Wherever you are, hoist a burger in the name of Bill Henry. See his story here.

Sept. 20 – 5 vigilers
Sept. 27 – 9 vigilers

End “Israel”; Now, more than ever.
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
#

Report on Beth Israel vigil 09-13-14

Posted on September 18th, 2014 at 11:10 am by

JWPF Endorses Full Page Ad in NYTimes

A full-page advertisement was run in the New York Times on Tuesday, September 16, 2014, appealing to Barack Obama to suspend aid to Israel. JWPF lent its name as an endorser to this ad, and we find ourselves in good company: Deir Yassin Remembered, If Americans Knew, Council for the National Interest, Americans for a Just Peace in the Middle East, RighteousJews.org, and the prestigious Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Part of the text reads: “It would mean aligning with progressive Israeli organizations like Rabbis For Human Rights, Gush Shalom, Peace Now, B’Tselem, and The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, as well as US Jewish organizations like Jewish Voice For Peace and Tikkun.” We note that none of these groups signed on as endorsers of this project, and have determined that all were invited to sign, but refused to do so. We leave it up to readers to consider the reasons for their [in]actions.

Readers can view the ad here, and a tip of the hat goes to Michael Hoffmann for providing the scanned copy, saving folks $2.50 for the cost of a print copy of the New York Times (all the news that fits, we print*). The text copy of this ad can be accessed here. JWPF recognizes that the ad is an imperfect document which supports Obama’s claim to stand by Israel. JWPF does not accept claims to the legitimacy of this racist state. But the final two paragraphs are worth repeating here:

The choice is yours alone. Are you really the one we were waiting for? Will this time really be different? Is there really no problem we cannot solve? Are we going to say yes to justice and equality, or are we going to turn away, slump-shouldered? Can we really face down impossible odds and repair this world, or were those just empty words?

We believe they came from the heart, and we have the audacity to hope that you will take these courageous steps, and more, to make them a reality.

Correcting the Corrections at Ann Arbor City Council

From our vigil report of August 9 we noted a young Palestinian man addressing City Council with an impassioned speech about the suffering his family was witnessing in Gaza. He said

“Israel is committing a Holocaust against the Palestinian people and you guys supported the Jews when the Holocaust was on them in Germany. Why won’t you stand up now against this new Holocaust?”

Councilwoman Sabra Briere, during comments from Council, took it upon herself to remind this young man that Jewish suffering trumps all others, saying

“And I just wanted to add a tiny little bit of history. One of the speakers mentioned that the US had supported the Jews during the Holocaust and took the Jewish side. I’m not certain whether he said the Jews or the Israelis but what I heard was the Jews, and that’s not the case. The US government refused to allow people asylum in this country. Boatloads of people were sent back to Europe. No country opened their doors to allow refugees, and when rumors of what was going on in Poland and Russia and Germany made their way to the US those were not considered reasons for the US government to try any means possible to end the war. They were just considered unreasonable rumors because no one believed that such behavior was possible. This is not to suggest that the violence that is going on in any country is acceptable or that violence between Israel and Palestine is justified on any level; only to correct this error of understanding of history.”

This kneejerk reaction from an elected official brought another reaction from this writer, and with the research assistance from PeaceMonger, delivered additional historical information to Council on Monday, September 15, 2014. My address to Council is found below signature.

* Quiz: For 10 points determine the source of this faux-motto for the NYT

8 vigilers
Liberate Palestine; End the Jewish State
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
#

September 15, 2014 [398 words]
Agenda Item CC – Comments from Council; reaction to remarks made by Councilperson Briere August 7, 2014

Good evening,

I am here to respond to an historical correction offered by Councilwoman Briere to a comment made by a young Palestinian man on August 7. Mustafa Aggour said:

“Israel is committing a Holocaust against the Palestinian people and you guys supported the Jews when the Holocaust was on them in Germany. Why won’t you stand up now against this new Holocaust?”

During comments from Council, Ms. Briere said that “the US government refused to allow people asylum in this country. Boatloads of people were sent back to Europe.”

The US government is not a monolithic body, and I’m certain Ms. Briere would agree. It reacts to constituent demands, and from pressure exerted by powerful lobbies. One need only look at this summer’s unanimous decision by our Senate to support Israel in its relentless attack on Gaza for an example of the power of the Jewish Lobby.

Historical recollection of World War Two refugees is perhaps better illuminated by examining the infighting between Jewish groups on the topic of restricting immigration during the end of the war. A Palestinian Jew named Peter Bergson created a group called the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe. He was opposed – not by anti-Jewish bigots – but by Zionist leaders like Rabbi Stephen Wise, who argued and fought the initiatives to save Jews here, because it was contrary to the interests of Zionists, who wanted refugees to go only to Palestine.

Not only did the US admit tens of thousands of Jews from Germany and Austria, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, but they go on to say:

“Public opinion in the United States, although ostensibly sympathetic to the plight of refugees and critical of Hitler’s policies, continued to favor immigration restrictions. The Great Depression had left millions of people in the United States unemployed and fearful of competition for the scarce few jobs available”

If Ms. Briere was implying that the decisions made by the US were based on anti-Jewish attitudes, quotes like the above do a lot to discourage such conclusions.

And when Mr. Aggour claims that Jews receive positive press, certainly when compared to the press that Palestinians receive, he is absolutely correct. Kathleen Christison writes that during the time of the Partition Plan, “Virtually all reporting was from the Jewish perspective”.

I believe that Mr. Aggour’s question to council was spot-on, politically, emotionally and historically.

Thank you

Report on Beth Israel vigil 09-06-14

Posted on September 7th, 2014 at 10:05 pm by

School Starts, So Do We …

At least three positive actions loom, perhaps more. Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends have been somewhat silent on the summer’s slaughter in Gaza – not because we don’t care about the people – but because our interest has been in the total dismantlement of the Jewish state. While other “peace” groups called for an end to the attacks, JWPF wonders why these groups miss the point: that a Jewish state, fueled by Jewish interests, is incompatible with peace. Our protests continue with a single message: End the Jewish State.

September 20: Sharing the Stage

This writer plans to participate in a panel discussion with guests Gilad Atzmon and Greg Felton in Seattle, Washington on September 20, 2014. The discussion is titled “Jerusalem, Washington and Whatever Else”, and will be moderated by Ibrahim Soudy. It will be held at the University Temple United Methodist Church located at 1415 NE 43rd St. Seattle, WA 98105. Hope to see you there.

October 4: Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

The most important holiday in the Jewish liturgical year falls on Saturday, October 4, and JWPF would like to see a larger turnout to match the anticipated larger turnout from Beth Israel congregants as they make their way to the sanctuary to pray for, among other items, the welfare of the Jewish state on that day. Peacemonger reminds us to celebrate the 5th Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day, which “honors the memory of Bill Henry (né Herskovitz), Z”L, for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of “Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism”. For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see the 2011 post about this momentous day.

October 12: ICPJ Crop Walk

“Ending hunger, one step at a time” is the theme for this social justice issue which the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice calls to the public’s attention. Often times in years past, JWPF has found it propitious to remind the public about the starvation of children in Gaza which is part of the problem of world hunger, and one that can easily be eliminated, by eliminating our country’s financial support of the Jewish state. Please join us at the Rudolf Steiner High School, 2230 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor.

October 19: Jewish Federation’s Big Event

The local Jewish community will dig deep into its pockets once again in the hopes that Jewish supremacism and nationalism will remain in control of Palestine and Washington, DC. The Federation’s website has not been forthcoming with the venue for this money-grab, but JWPF plans to be present outside the event on public property. Please make plans to join us.

Comments?

Aug 23: 12 vigilers
Aug 30: 8 vigilers
Sep 6: 8 vigilers
Liberate Palestine; End the Jewish State
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Report on Beth Israel vigil 08-16-14

Posted on August 17th, 2014 at 11:08 am by

Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission: “No Comment”

Ann Arbor resident Neal Elyakin is a founding member of the Michigan-Israel Business Bridge, a Board Member of the Michigan Chapter of the Friends of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and a Board Member of the Jewish National Fund. The Fund controls Palestinian land that was ethnically cleansed during the Nakba of 1948; the Business Bridge is antithetical to the Palestinian call for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, and the IDF kills and maims innocent Palestinian women and children by the thousands and is perhaps the most egregious violator of human rights on the planet.

Now, Mr. Elyakin – an American citizen and possibly a citizen of the Jewish state – is free to associate himself with any organization he chooses, and we support his freedom. But it raises questions of conflict of interest when this supporter of the Jewish state, which he calls “my country”, including specifically his support of the [tongue-in-cheek] “most moral army in the world” is appointed by Mayor John Hieftje to sit on the local Human Rights Commission.

This writer attended the Human Rights Commission meeting on August 13, and raised this conflict of interest during their public commentary time, wondering what statement the HRC would make in regards to Mr. Elyakin’s fairly obvious conflicts of interest. The answer was quickly forthcoming: “No comment” said HRC Chair Leslie Krauz Stambaugh. “We do not respond to public comments.” Then she explained that the Commission had a “lot to do tonight.”

Readers are invited to read Gideon Levy’s column, written months before the current mass murder in Gaza, aka “Operation Protective Edge”, began. [ital]“The most moral army in the world; The Israel Defense Forces believe brute strength is the only way to act, yet Israelis refuse to see what Amnesty International and others tell them”. Also, a more detailed description of the local Human Right Commission’s refusal to see conflict of interest when it’s right under their noses, can be read here.

Comments?

10 vigilers
“It’s the Jews, Stupid!”
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

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